Prince William County Subsequent Offense DUI Lawyer
If you have been charged with a DUI after having been convicted of one in the past, you could be facing enhanced penalties. Driving under the influence is taken seriously by prosecutors and the more DUI charges you incur in a period of 10 years, the more severe your penalties could be. Therefore, you should reach out to a dedicated DUI attorney. Contact a Prince William County subsequent offense DUI lawyer today to get started on your case.
Second Offense DUI Charges
If a person is charged with a second DUI within ten years after their first conviction, they could face mandatory minimum jail, which ups the stakes for everyone involved with the case. The government will prosecute them vigorously. This is because the government could be concerned that the individual is not in control of their drinking, as a recent DUI could indicate that someone regularly drives drunk and was simply caught twice. These circumstances could lead a prosecutor to try to get the individual off the street for as long as possible and request more than the mandatory minimum jail time.
Alternatively, prosecutors might be more understanding about a DUI conviction from eight or nine years ago and could negotiate for an outcome that reduces or eliminates jail time. The most significant variable that informs how prosecutors handle second offense DUI charges is the length of time between the first and the second charge. A person charged with a second offense DUI could lose their license for a period of three years, have to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, pay a fine, or serve jail time depending on the length of time between their first and second offenses. Therefore, it is critical for defendants to contact a subsequent DUI offense lawyer in Prince William County as soon as possible.
License Suspension and Restriction
If a person charged with a DUI in Prince William County participates in a breath test that yields a result of 0.08 or higher or they refuse to participate in that test, their license will be administratively suspended for a period of 60 days. This is a tremendous increase from a seven-day suspension for a first offense. An administrative suspension is challengeable but not restrictable, so they can go to court and try to have the administrative suspension overturned by alleging that the officer did not have probable cause to place them under arrest. However, they cannot go to the court and ask for a restricted license for those 60 days.
When charged with a DUI first offense, a person’s license is administratively suspended for seven days, but it can be difficult to get to court within seven days to challenge an administrative suspension. Alternatively, those who are convicted of a second DUI have two months to challenge a suspension.
A challenge hearing seeks to establish that the Commonwealth lacked probable cause to place the defendant under arrest. If they can convince the court that that is the case, the courts could resolve that motion favorably, and the person would be able to drive again.
The Amount of Time Between DUIs
A person charged with a second DUI within five to ten years could have mandatory minimum jail time of ten days and a three-year loss of license with the ability to get it restricted after four months. However, for a person charged with a second DUI within five years, the mandatory minimum jail time doubles to 20 days, and they must wait one year before they can get a restricted operator’s license.
How Prince William County Courts Treat Second Offense DUI Charges
DUIs are important to courts because they recognize that a crime did and will continue to put the community at considerable risk, and a person charged for a second time will get the attention of a judge. Therefore, the judge could give significant amounts of jail time, sometimes more than is required by Virginia law. All of this depends on the amount of time between the first and the second offenses, as well as the nature and circumstances of the crime itself.
The courts typically do not assign jail time for first-time offenders because they understand that most people who commit a DUI for the first time will never do it again. Most people in Prince William County DUI cases just make an honest mistake and typically show remorse, but those who return to court for driving under the influence a second time could face the full force of the law. A second-offense DUI charge warrants a judge to hand out jail time for fear of re-offending again, so the court will send a message reflected in an amount of jail time.
Building a Defense for Second Offense DUI Charges
For every DUI, attorneys look at whether there are constitutional defenses, statutory defenses, or scientific defenses. The only difference between a second offense DUI and a first offense DUI when building a defense is that lawyers need to see whether the government can prove that there was a prior offense since prior offenses could inform punishments for subsequent offenses. For example, a skilled Prince William County subsequent offense DUI lawyer would examine whether the conviction was recorded correctly in the court where it was heard, whether the court records accurately reflect that there was a conviction and whether there are mistakes in those courts’ records that leave some doubt as to what happened.
Prince William County is close to interstates and is generally a transit area, so there could be people who have previous convictions from other jurisdictions. Attorneys would need to look at the law from those other jurisdictions to determine whether the law there is substantially similar to Virginia law.
If the law of another jurisdiction impacts whether a person could have been charged in Prince William County for that conduct, a lawyer can challenge whether a conviction in another state can be used as a predicate offense in Prince William County courts. Other than a close look at a prior conviction, a second-offense DUI is treated similarly to a first offense in terms of how defense attorneys prepare for trial.
Drivers convicted of a second DUI could lose their license for a period of three years. For at least a large chunk of that time, they are not going to be able to get it restricted so that they can go to and from work or anywhere else. If the prior conviction was five to ten years ago, they could get their license restricted four months after the date that they were convicted. If the prior conviction was within five years, they are not going to be able to drive at all for one full year, after which they can return to court and ask for a restricted license.
Third-Offense DUI Charges in Prince William County
All third-offense DUI charges are heard in the Prince William County courthouse. The initial stage of the trial would be the preliminary hearing stage heard in the general district court. If the charges get past the preliminary hearing stage and they are certified as a felony to the grand jury, then the case will be heard in the circuit court of Prince William County.
A third DUI offense within ten years becomes a felony charge. There is a massive difference in how this is prosecuted as well as how it affects the person charged, as a felony sticks with a person for the rest of their life and could affect their future employment opportunities.
Felonies typically entail a significant amount of jail time. There is mandatory minimum jail time of at least 90 days for a person with two prior convictions within five to ten years, and there is a six-month mandatory minimum sentence if their prior two convictions were both within the last five years. Felony DUI charges are taken seriously in Prince William County, and someone with those charges could face a license suspension for up to five years and could get a restricted license after three years. Therefore, it is essential for defendants to obtain the services of a Prince William County subsequent offense DUI attorney.
Time Between DUIs
Previous DUI charges that occurred within five to ten years before the third offense entail mandatory minimum jail time of 90 days. If a person was convicted within five years of the current charge, the mandatory minimum sentence is six months.
How do Courts Treat Third-Offense DUI Charges in Prince William County?
While the courts treat every case fairly, they may not employ as much mercy for a third-time offender of DUI. A person convicted of a third-time DUI offense could face significant punishment because having three such offenses within a decade of each other is indicative to a judge that they have a problem with alcohol as well as willpower. The courts come down hard on these offenses to keep the community safe.
Defending Third-Offense DUI Charges
Third-offense DUI charges in Prince William County would be defended similarly to any DUI charge. The defense could look for constitutional, scientific, or statutory issues and check into the prior convictions to determine whether they could count toward a third charge, especially if the prior convictions are from out-of-state and deal with other statutes that may not apply in Prince William County.
The stakes are significantly higher when defending a third-offense DUI as opposed to a first offense. First, it is a lengthier trial process because it must go through both a preliminary hearing and a trial, whereas a misdemeanor charge entails only a trial. Second, felony charges entail significant mandatory minimum jail time and could cause someone to lose their job or home. A Prince William County subsequent offense DUI lawyer could help evaluate the merits of the DUI, work to stop the Commonwealth from proving the charge, or introduce mitigating evidence to lower the possible fallout from the charge.
Impacts on Prince William County Drivers’ Licenses
A person charged with a third-offense DUI in Prince William County could have their license suspended through the trial date, but they must be convicted for their license suspension to continue indefinitely. Virginia law allows the DMV to administratively suspend a license until the trial date without a conviction or hearing, and the only thing a person can do to prevent this is to file a motion with the court to prove that there was no probable cause to place them under arrest. Driving is a privilege, not a right, so a person can have their license suspended administratively at any time.
There is no difference in how to challenge the suspension of license after a third-offense DUI charge. A person can file a motion in the general district court alleging that the Commonwealth lacked probable cause to place them under arrest, which they have the burden of proving. If they are successful, then the court will reverse the administrative suspension; otherwise, they cannot drive until their trial date.
Penalty Enhancements or Aggravating Factors
Statutory enhancements for a third-offense DUI in Prince William County include a 90-day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the two prior convictions were within five to ten years as well as a six-month mandatory minimum sentence if the previous convictions were within five years. There are also enhanced penalties that could add jail time for elevated blood alcohol levels, such as anything over 0.15, or if there were minors in the car at the time of the arrest.
There are also human enhancements, meaning that the court may increase the punishment based on how “bad” the charge looks. For example, someone who has a prior conviction from nine years ago and has otherwise been on track may receive a more favorable outcome. A judge would consider these variables to determine what could or should happen to a defendant.
A person caught with a BAC higher than 0.15 is guaranteed additional mandatory minimum jail time whether it is a first offense, second offense, or third offense. There is a sliding scale as to how much jail time they should expect.
Call a Prince William County Subsequent Offense DUI Attorney
Every jurisdiction has its own way of processing cases, and that is especially true for felony cases. Having a legal representative who has experience with Prince William County DUI cases could be a massive benefit to you. A more severe case could involve a lengthier trial process, so enlist the help of a Prince William County subsequent offenses DUI lawyer who can understand, appreciate, and anticipate the legal process. Call today.